Life is meant to be enjoyed, but it’s also meant to knock you down to see what you’re made of.
In Scarborough Players latest production, Neil Simon’s classic comedy The Odd Couple, we see life’s realities played out through a group of men who share the highs and lows of life together with friendship, and laughter; all in typical guy form.
Doing such a well-known play comes with its expectations and challenges. It says in the program the goal was to stage this play as if it were the first time it had ever been done.
Scarborough Players have succeeded in making The Odd Couple uniquely their own. The production will make you laugh and be thankful for the good friends in your own life.
It’s a funny, touching, entertaining and reminds those of us who have seen it before how great the story can be when the right cast, direction and energy are put into the show.
The story takes place in the 1960s in the unkempt New York City apartment of the recently divorced Oscar Madison (Allan Cooke), and begins with the guys, Speed (Michael Davidson), Murray (Greg Nowlan), Roy (Tim O’Connell) and Vinnie (Chris Wakelin), playing their weekly poker game.
When the sixth member of their crew, Felix (Paul Cotton), fails to show up, they begin to worry and it turns out for good reason. After a phone call, they learn Felix is on a suicide mission because his wife wants a divorce.
When Felix finally arrives, the guys can’t hide their concern. They frantically shield him from everything he could harm himself with, and after an emotionally charged night, Oscar offers him a fresh start by inviting him to stay.
A few weeks later, we see how the men’s living situation has turned out. Instead of a bachelor pad, we see Felix taking on the stereotypical wife role, doing all the cooking and cleaning, while Oscar is being scorned for being a slob and late for dinner. It seems these two men got out of their marriages and stepped right into another one.
Trying to regain some masculinity, Oscar sets up a double dinner date with the Pigeon sisters, Gwendolyn and Cecily (Kim Sprenger, Stephanie Haines), but it ends up being far from the manly date night Oscar envisioned. At his wits end, Oscar has to figure out how they can live together without ruining their friendship.
This show has all the elements of a great comedy: Interesting characters, some great one-liners and a plot both men and women can relate to. The on-stage chemistry and camaraderie between these guys is amazing to watch and they make it look flawlessly easy.
The actors play their roles, both individually and with each other, with amazing comedic timing and believability. A true ensemble piece, each actor has a hand in making this show a success.
There is laughter throughout, and the scenes between Cooke as Oscar and Cotton as Felix are the best examples of that. Both actors are ideal to play these roles and from their expressions to their interactions, they make even the sadder moments funny to watch.
There are some shows, like The Odd Couple, that have a timelessness and it never gets tiresome to watch providing it is staged and cast well. This is one of those shows.
The Odd Couple runs through Jan. 26, at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 20, at the Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Rd.
Regular tickets are $18. For tickets and more information, please call 416-267-9292 or visit www.theatrescarborough.com